16:00 10 Aug 2019
2019 Tour de France winner Egan Bernal says he still cannot believe that he claimed victory in the classic race.
The 22-year-old became the youngest winner of cycling’s biggest race in 110 years, claiming first place ahead of Ineos teammate and defending champion Geraint Thomas last month.
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“To be honest, I don’t really believe it yet,” Bernal said on the Team Ineos website. “I feel the same as I did before the Tour. I think I just need a couple of days at home, staying really calm, and then I’ll start to believe that I have won the Tour. I can’t process it.
“I have won the biggest race, but I’ll still be happy to win a small race. Right now I think that I am the same guy that started the Tour in Belgium one month ago.”
Bernal had only raced the Tour once before – finishing 15th last year while helping Thomas to victory – but he coped admirably with the pressure of co-leadership of the team.
“Maybe the key to winning the Tour is just trying to enjoy it,” Bernal said. “During the Tour, the media talk about pressure, pressure, pressure, but if I’d started to think about that, maybe I wouldn’t have ridden the same.
“But throughout the Tour I knew I had prepared in the best way I could. What could I do then? Just enjoy it and ride as fast as I could.
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“I knew I would do my best so I would have been happy with any result – either winning the Tour or helping G win. In the end I just knew I needed to go full gas, enjoy the race, and stay calm.”
The Colombian added, “It was just amazing. I almost cried on the podium. When I was really young, I saw (Alberto) Contador and the big battles with (Andy) Schleck, then guys like (Sir Bradley) Wiggins and (Chris) Froomey.
“I saw them on the TV. And wow, I couldn’t imagine that one day I would be there. On the podium I was thinking of them. It was just amazing because my Dad and my girlfriend were there. It was a special moment.”